I got a phone call from an old friend, a fellow soldier. Hold that thought, we never did anything cool. We were both IT guys. “Soldier” didn’t reach farther than the clothes we wore to work. As distance and time goes, we stopped talking; it must have been six years now. Time had made my life dull and melancholy; I continued to sit behind computers and cut the threads holding me to a world beyond them. He had given up on IT work — not for any complex reason. He moved back home where the internet was still measured in the kilobytes per second and streaming a 480p video would eat the bandwidth of the whole block. He told me about it on boring days — “one of the few places in the States untouched by the technocalypse”. It was something I yearned for; I’d seep into any story he told, immersing myself. My childhood was sold away to cushy billionaires — suburbia, where rent is low and commute is fast. The whole thing was transcendental in my mind. I could feel it like it was in my hands — as if I had lived it in a past life. Sleeping under the stars, schools where everyone knew each other’s names, having the town sheriff over for dinner — bliss. I never felt envious though, only humbled. He told me he was getting married to his high school sweetheart — how stereotypical. I congratulated him, “so where’s my invite?”. He laughed and explained that I was more than welcome to lodge with him. The things I had planned were stupid. I needed to live a little like him. I began packing immediately. I had a single minded focus. I drove and slept and drove some more. He was already there to greet me at my arrival. We embraced and he showed me his property. Then I saw her. She wore an olive button up and simple slacks — mud stains adorning both. The blouse fit loosely to her slender form. Her features were a mix of strong and weak, healthy and worn. Her short hair swept by the breeze and scraggly, arms smooth as if they were just sandblasted; she had a soft face and sad eyes. She embodied the word nubile. I looked back to my escort. He grinned at me daintily. Never before had I had such an urge to kill a man.